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Seafood Sinigang
Roots

The origins of this national dish are a little cloudy with no significant records pinning down its foundations but it has been around so long it is seen as indigenous to the Philippines and was enjoyed by past generations long before Spanish colonisation. The comforting, sour broth of the Sinigang is often the fall back home remedy for sore throats and colds. Also for many people in the Philippines, Sinigang comes with strong memories connecting them to family and community which is why it's a Sunday favourite enjoyed around the family kitchen table. Typically tamarind creates the distinctive sour flavour but nowadays you'll see a wide variety of souring agents being used including raw mango, guava or calamansi (the Filipino lime).

Techniques

Souring agents - Learn how to use this souring agent tamarind that is used across Filipino cookery. Use it to create a rich soured soup.

Shellfish prep - prepare prawns by de-shelling and de-veining the shellfish.

Pan control - Cook the vegetables & fish individually, to maintain varying textures and also to flavour your soup.

Ingredients
Serving Size
Serves: 4
  • 1L seafood stock (can use stock cube if needed)
  • 3 tbsp tamarind extract or 30g tamarind powder
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 4 tomatoes, quartered
  • 500g firm white fish fillets (e.g. monkfish, or cod), cut into chunks
  • 450g large prawns
  • 250g long beans(snake beans) or green beans
  • 3 fresh birds eye chillies
  • 1 bunch morning glory
  • 1/2 bunch coriander
  • fish sauce, to taste
  • 120g jasmine rice
Equipment
Utensils

1x large chopping board, 1x chef knife, 4x small bowls, 2x high sided pan & lid, 1x waste bowl, 1x tooth pick/skewer, 1x fork, 1x wooden spoon, 1x tablespoon, 1x ladle

Pre-Preparation

No pre-lesson preparation needed.

Cooking Method
Step 1

Let's get cracking on our vegetable prep, take the snake beans and line them up together, trim the ends and then cut in to pieces roughly 2cm in size. Next, move onto the chilli, splitting in half lengthways and removing the green stems. Cut the tomatoes in half and then half again and move to one side. Next, let's cut the shallots - top and tail them, cut in half and remove the skin. Now cut into 2cm chunks and place in a bowl for later.

Grab the morning glory removing the thick lower stems and then cut the rest of the vegetable in half.

Step 2

Into a clean sauce pan, add your rice and top with water. Place onto the hob with a lid, and leave to come up to the boil.

Take your cod, and remove the skin (if it hasn't been removed) leaving just the white meat. Repeat across all your pieces of fish, discarding the skin to one side. Now portion the cod into large even chunks, this will help the fish maintain its shape once cooked. Once you have portioned your cod you may want to check to see if your rice has come to the boil - if it has, drop the temperature right down low and leave to cook for 15 minutes (covered). Now let's prep the prawns.

Step 3

Now, I like to leave the head on the prawns, it adds so much flavour to the dish and improves our presentation. But, what we do want to do is remove the shell, legs and also the vein. To remove the shell and legs from the body pinch the shell and pull it away from the body (check my notes for a more in-depth method). Once the shell has been removed from the body, take your knife and run it down the 'spine' of the prawn exposing the vein. Take a tooth pick or pointed object and pull the vein away from the prawn and there we have it, one prepared prawn. Repeat across the remaining prawns.

The rice should have been on the hob for around 15 minutes now. If it's cooked, remove from the heat, fluff the rice up with a fork and then leave covered for when the soup is ready to go.

Step 4

Into a clean pan add your stock, fresh chilli and the tamarind powder. We want this to be quite sour. Mix well and bring this liquid to the boil. Grab your tomatoes and shallots. As it comes to the boil, add your tomatoes and the shallots and cook in the soup base. Bring back to the boil. While you wait, get the remaining ingredients for the soup. Once to the boil, drop the temperature down to a simmer. Place your spider strainer into the soup and then add in your beans. Cook for roughly 3 minutes. Taste your beans after a few minutes, we are still looking for some texture, if you are happy with their tenderness remove from the soup and leave to one side.

Next we will do the fish, it's best to work in batches. Place the cod onto the strainer and then into the soup. We want to cook the cod for 3-5 minutes depending on the size of your pieces. Keep checking as you go. Cook the next batches of your cod. Once the cod is cooked, move onto the prawns cooking them in the same way (you will see the prawns turn a pink/yellow colour, firm up in texture and also begin to curl once cooked).

Step 5

Finally add the morning glory, turn off the heat and leave this to cook. What we want to do now is taste the sauce, we are looking for a little bit of heat from the chilli, sourness from the tamarind and some umami from the tomato. Next add the patis, stir well and taste again. Add more fish sauce as you wish.

Step 6

Everything is now cooked so let's move onto plating. In a deep serving bowl, place your cod, vegetables and prawns evenly distributing everything. Now, add the star of the show, the broth, making sure you get some of the tomatoes and shallots in there. Just to top it all off add some coriander.

In a side bowl add piles of aromatic rice and then serve. Enjoy!

Budgie Montoya
's Notes

Step 1

Snake beans


Snake beans are long legumes that typically grow to 1.5 feet in length. Grown across all parts of South Asia, Southeast Asia and China. The pods begin to form at around 60 days and produce beans right up until winter seasons.

Morning glory


Morning glory is a semi-aquatic plant that is grown for its shoots, known in England as water spinach. Typically grown in water or moist soil, it can grow to (7-10ft) in height with the leaves typically being arrow head in shape.

It is not clear the origins of the plant, but it is thought to have originated in Southeast Asia with China seen as a potential location for its domestication.

We remove the tougher part of the stem on our morning glory but this can be used in other recipes to reduce our wastage. My favourite ways to use them are by slicing thinly and cooking in stir-frys or fried rice dishes.

Step 2

Jasmine rice is from the group of aromatic rices that are typically long or medium grain lengths. Their flavours come from high concentrations of volatile compounds. Jasmine rice is a longer grain rice but has lower amylose starch that long grain white rice, which is the reason for the stickier texture.

Finger depth

A good technique to judge how much water to add to your rice before cooking is to place your finger into the rice and look for the water to be meeting the first line of your finger.

Cod

The cod family has been one of the most important fisheries in history. This mid-sized fish stays near the ocean floor, in shallow water and is known to be a slow swimmer so won't be winning races anytime soon! Being slow means they have inactive enzyme systems which creates a stable flavour and texture.

Skinning

There are a couple of ways to remove the skin from our cod - I recommend experimenting with both and using what is easiest for you.

Method 1

Taking the piece of cod, cut an incision at either end flat to the skin. With your knife flat against the skin, cut in a sawing motion towards the other end of the fillet. I recommend keeping your knife pointed slightly downwards (to the skin), keeping a sawing motion.

Method 2

Make a cut to the centre of your fillet without cutting through the skin. Once you are at the skin angle your knife to cut out and away from one side of the fillet. Repeat on the other side.

Step 3

Prawns

Prawns are one of the commonly eaten shellfish across the world. This is due to their size and delicious taste. Today, about a third of the world's production is cultivated in Asia. They go a bright red or orange colour when cooked and begin to curl once heated.

Using the shells for stock is a great way to reduce our waste and create a stock that is full of flavour. Simply cook the shells with other white vegetables (onion, celery, carrots), in a high-sided pan and cover in water. Simmer for 25 minutes and then strain.

Prawn preparation

  1. Flip the prawn in your hands so the belly is facing you.
  2. At the top, near the head, taking your thumb and finger & pinch the shell pulling away from the body.
  3. Repeat this down the entire body, pinching and pulling the shell away from the body.
  4. Once the shell has been removed, lay the prawn on its side and make a small cut into the back of the prawn.
  5. Take a tooth pick or the end of a small knife and pick the black vein away from the flesh of the prawn and then discard.

    The best way to work (this is a general method, whether prepping large amounts of prawns or large amounts of onions): de-shell all the prawns at once and then work on de-veining the prawns.

Step 4

Tamarind

Tamarind is the fibrous, sticky, aromatic and very sour pulp that surrounds the seeds in pods of the Tamarindus Indica. The pulp that is used to create the powders, extract and paste is roughly made up of 20% acid.  Mostly tartaric in variety.

This recipe is a great way to increase your skill with the individual cooking method of the vegetables and fish. Not only does it give you control over the textures in the dish but also helps you add flavour into your sour soup.

When cooking your cod, its important to keep an eye on it, the cooking times can vary greatly but we are looking for the fish to become firmer in texture but not flake apart into the sauce. If you are worried your fish isn't cooked, remember it will continue to cook as it rests.

Step 5

Fish sauce throughout history has often played a similar role as soy sauce, in areas where soy doesn't grow. Fish sauces or pastes are made much in the same way, but are left for different periods of time. Quantities of fish or shellfish, are salted at a concentration typically between 10% - 30% and then sealed in a container for a extended period of time. Typically 1 month for fish paste and up to 24 months for sauces.

When you add the morning glory to the hot soup, turn the heat off and leave it to cook while you get ready to serve - the residual heat in the will cook it perfectly

Step 6

Coriander

Coriander is one of the most widely eaten herbs. Native to the middle east its seeds have been noted as far back as the bronze ages. Coriander seeds were quickly taken to other parts of the world such as China, India and Southeast Asia. It was later introduced to parts of Latin America.

When serving, place your ingredients in your bowl, take your time and think where these will be placed, this will create the presentation of your dish.

When adding your soup to the dish it will bring the temperature of your garnish back up.

Get Creative
  • Proteins - get creative with the types of fish and proteins you use in this recipe. I'd get creative with different varieties of prawns and white fish like monk fish (or whats available sustainably).
  • Tamarind - we use tamarind powder in this recipe as our souring agent. You can also try using tamarind paste to see how the fresher paste affects the flavour of the dish. Also play around with different sour fruits like calamansi, limes and lemons.
  • Vegetables - there’s nothing better than cooking with the seasons. Adapt your vegetables according to what is growing in the seasons. Remember to think about what flavours we need to bring to the dish - a balance of sour, sweetness and umami.
Allergens
  • Shellfish
  • Fish
  • Always check the packaging as allergens may vary depending on the supplier.
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Budgie Montoya
I'm the chef & owner of Sarap BAon and Sarap Bistro, bringing the bold Filipino flavours to London.